Malaysia, the world’s second-largest palm oil producer, said Tuesday it expects exports to rise in 2010 thanks to higher prices and an increase in the amount of land devoted to the commodity.
“Yes, we can surpass last year’s exports,” plantation industries and commodities minister Bernard Dompok told reporters on the sidelines of a palm oil industry gathering.
“This year the prices are better. We are going to exceed what we achieved in 2009,” he said.
In 2009, the palm oil exports amounted to 49.59 billion ringgit (15 billion dollars), a 24 percent drop from the previous year due to prices falling to 2,244.50 ringgit per metric tonne from 2,856.50 as the global slump hit demand.
Dompok said the industry has forecasted output to increase to 18.1 million tonnes in 2010, up from 17.5 million tonnes last year due to a slight increase in palm oil acreage.
Malaysian palm oil — used extensively across the globe for biofuel, processed food and toiletries — is exported to more than 150 countries worldwide, with China the biggest market.
Dompok said oil palm cultivation in Malaysia occupies close to 4.67 million hectares (11.5 million acres).
The palm oil industry is facing a series of challenges including labour shortages, limited suitable land and demands from global markets for sustainably produced palm oil, he said.
Malaysia is the world’s second-largest exporter of palm oil after Indonesia, and the two countries account for 85 percent of global production.